What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a popular medical procedure that uses an injection of a solution to eliminate spider veins, reticular, and small varicose veins. It’s a proven varicose veins treatment and spider vein treatment that has been in use since the 1930s. The procedure is performed in-office, and the solution is either a foam or liquid that is injected via a small gauge needle. Once the solution has been injected, it causes the vein to swell and stick together, or scar. Blood is then forced to reroute through healthier veins, while the scarred vein is reabsorbed into local tissue, eventually fading.
For those who are troubled by their varicose veins, a dermatologist or vascular medicine specialist will decide whether or not the procedure would be suitable. If you are pregnant, the procedure will not be done; however, if you take birth control pills, you are eligible have the varicose veins treatment. Those patients who have had a blood clot in the past have their eligibility for the procedure determined on a case-by-case basis. Eligibility depends on the overall health of the area to be worked on, and the reason for the blood clot is also considered, according to WebMd.
Effectiveness of Varicose and Spider Vein Treatment with Sclerotherapy
Research shows that up to 80% of injected veins can be treated and eliminated with each treatment session, and 90% of people who undergo sclerotherapy do respond to the injections. For the most part, small spider veins can be seen fading in three to six weeks, while larger veins may take three to four months to fade. When veins respond to the treatment, they do not ever reappear, although new veins may become visible.
Possible Side Effects
Most side effects of sclerotherapy are mild and do not persist for very long. Itching is possible and can last for one or two days, and there may be raised and/or red areas at injection sites for a couple of days. Bruising can also occur, and can last several days or a few weeks, depending on the patient. Although larger veins that have been treated can become hard and lumpy, they will normally dissolve and fade within a few months. Brown lines or spots can also appear, but in most cases they disappear within six months. More serious side effects, which are rare, might include allergic reactions to the solution, inflammation within five inches of the groin, a sudden onset of a swollen leg, and small ulcers that form at the injection site. Should any of these side effects occur, your doctor should be contacted right away.
The Cost of Sclerotherapy
How much you will pay for this vein treatment procedure will depend on several factors. You should know that unless the varicose veins are causing medical issues, such as pain or chronic swelling, insurance probably will not cover the procedure. Be sure to check with your insurance company ahead of time and ensure that you fully understand the costs you will be responsible for. The cost of the procedure will also vary from provider to provider, and will depend on how many veins are treated, how large the veins are, and so on. If your insurance will cover the cost, the company will require a letter from your doctor discussing the nature of the treatment and the necessity of it.
Before and After Sclerotherapy Treatment for Veins
Prior to your procedure, your doctor will evaluate the veins involved and will want to know about any recent illnesses or medical conditions, allergies, and medications or supplements you take. You’ll be instructed to stop taking any aspirin, NSAIDs, and blood thinners at a certain point before the procedure to minimize bleeding. Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding shaving and applying lotion to the legs for 24 hours before your treatment and wearing loose, comfy clothes to the appointment.
Medical experts recommend that anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin be avoided for 48 hours after your treatment. You should also avoid hot baths, saunas, whirlpools, and exposure to direct sunlight. Showers are fine, but be sure that the water is not hot. You may wash injection sites with mild soap and water. Walking is encouraged, and you can resume your regular daily activities, with the exception of strenuous aerobic exercise; you’ll also be told to wear compression stockings for a bit afterwards. Should you have any concerns about anything regarding your sclerotherapy treatment, be sure to consult your medical professional.
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